For local sports across Kern County the middle of April is known for baseball, softball, track and field and swimming. Add lacrosse to the list.
You might have seen the Bakersfield Rams practicing if you've driven by Garces High School in the past few weeks. The club team is the first of its kind in Bakersfield.
While it's the inaugural season, in such a gritty town, the athletes were there. "I'm always interested in something with contact," said Garces senior Carlos Rosales on why he tried out. The team features players from Garces, Frontier, Centennial and Highland and has already picked up two more wins than the league projected (zero).
For team founder Andrew Zaninovich, lacrosse is the perfect outlet for athletes who might not be standouts in the other mainstream sports. He grew up playing the sport himself and wanted Bakersfield kids to have the same opportunity. "He always said it shaped him as a person and really developed who he is today," said his son Tom Zaninoich.
But the journey was far from easy. "I've had many people say lacrosse will never work in Bakersfield," he said. "That's reason enough for me to try and make it work." After winning a couple equipment grants from the US Lacrosse Program, his years of planning and "what ifs" finally came to fruition. "It's just amazing," Tom said. "I'm so proud and grateful for the chance."
The Rams players have taken that chance to not only be hard hitting but also to leave a legacy for future lacrosse players to follow. "From the beginning of the season til the end we've gotten so much better," said Rams goalie and Garces sophomore Jack Waguespack. "We're putting up numbers against big teams and we've really shown what we got."
Showing what they've got and paving the way for the "fastest sport on two feet" to come to Kern County. "This is definitely not just an East Coast sport," Zaninovich said. "This is a Bakersfield sport."
The Rams have 4 games left this year including their season finale on May 6th at Garces starting at 1:00 PM.
There will be a summer clinic on July 15th & 22nd at Polo Park from 8-10 AM for boys and girls ages 7-16. People can register through North of the River or at www.bakersfieldyouthlacrosse.com.
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